NCAA Notebook: Two-for-one helped Notre Dame advance

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

College coaches are counseled to have short memories when thinking about certain situations too much might cause their teams paralysis by analysis and punch their ticket home from the NCAA Tournament.

But it was the long memory of Notre Dame assistant Martin Ingelsby that may have helped extend the Irish season and send the program on to a second Sweet 16 appearance in as many seasons.

Sixty-three seconds remained in Sunday’s second round East Region game between No. 6 seed Notre Dame and No. 14 Stephen F. Austin, which led 75-72 when the Irish called a timeout.

Just before the Irish would huddle up, Ingelsby turned to coach Mike Brey and offered a reminder – enough time was left for a two-for-one situation. That meant that if the Irish could work quickly on their possession coming back from the timeout, there would be enough time left on the clock after an SFA possession for a final Notre Dame shot.

Consider it a lesson learned from the closing minute of last year’s near-miss against Kentucky in the Midwest Regional final.

With that game tied at 66 and 1:12 remaining that night in Cleveland, Notre Dame never advanced the ball below the foul line and drained the entire 35-second shot clock. The best the Irish could get was a degree-of-difficulty 3-point attempt from Jerian Grant that was blocked by Willie Cauley-Stein and knocked out of bounds with one second on the shot clock.

The Irish eventually committed a clock violation turnover to give the ball to Kentucky. The Wildcats then ran the clock all the way down to six seconds before an Irish foul.

Andrew Harrison connected on two free throws to put the Wildcats up two. All the Irish had time for then was to race the ball up the floor and get a prayer shot from Grant that wasn’t answered.

“We were set up for two-for-one and we didn’t do it,” Brey remembered Sunday evening. “We said after that game anytime we have that situation, we’re going to go two for one.”

They went for it.

Notre Dame burned only 16 seconds off the 30-second shot clock Sunday before Demetrius Jackson drove it hard to the hoop and was fouled. His two free throws with 47 seconds remaining brought the Irish within one, 75-74.

Next order of business was to force the Lumberjacks into a quick shot and get a stop. Thomas Walkup missed a layup with 23 seconds left before a Ty Charles rebound tip also failed. Zach Auguste grabbed the defensive rebound with 20 seconds left.

Someone on the Irish bench yelled for Brey to get a timeout.

“I said, ‘Shut the (heck) up, we’re not calling time out,’” Brey said. “You want to play because you want to take advantage of some chaos. Because of chaos, we were able to get the tip-in.”

That tip in by freshman guard Rex Pflueger with 1.5 seconds remaining was the culmination of three shots in 4.5 seconds. All were possible because of better clock management than last March.

“It worked out great for us,” Brey said. “We wanted to be in position to have that last shot.”

That last shot sent Notre Dame (23-11) on to the East Region semifinal and a date Friday with No. 7 Wisconsin (22-12) in Philadelphia. Tip time on TBS is set for 7:27 p.m.

Quality conference

Seven Atlantic Coast Conference teams received NCAA bids nine days ago. Of those, six have advanced into the Sweet 16 as the league racked up a staggering 12-1 record after opening-round play.

It’s the first time in tournament history that so many teams from the same league are in the second weekend.

“This is unprecedented, what’s going on,” Brey said. “I’m very proud when I look back and go, we were 11-7 in that league. Thank you. I’ll take that.”

In addition to North Carolina and Notre Dame in the East Region, ACC schools still practicing and playing included Duke (West), Miami (Fla.) (South), Syracuse (Midwest) and Virginia (Midwest).

The only school sent home early and without a tournament win was Pittsburgh, which lost its NCAA opener to Wisconsin.

All the talk much of the regular season centered on how deep and powerful the Big 12 had become, but the ACC now reigns.

And Notre Dame is part of that dominance.

“It’s big, man,” Auguste said. “It shows that we’re a conference to reckon with and we might be one of the best conferences ever in college basketball.

“We played against great competition every day.”

And a rich one. ESPN reported Monday that the conference stands to make $30 million thanks to its NCAA postseason success.

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Twitter: @tnoieNDI

NCAA Tournament

East Region


WHO: No. 6 seed Notre Dame (23-11) vs. No. 7 Wisconsin (22-12).

WHERE: Wells Fargo Center (19,500), Philadelphia.

WHEN: Friday at 7:27 p.m.


RADIO: WSBT (960 AM, 96.1 FM).

ONLINE: Follow every Notre Dame game with live updates from Tribune beat writer Tom Noie at